India and the US have the capacity to lead global education, US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday as several institutions from the two countries announced tie-ups and collaborations.
Skill education remained in the focus, with Human Resource Development Minister M.M. Pallam Raju saying India would be starting 200 skill training institutes based on the model of US's community colleges.
Kerry, on a three-day official visit to India, said the two countries needed to lead the way as a large young population has to be trained.
"There are gigantic challenges. People don't just have to be trained for work; they need to be trained so that they can take part in democracy, so that they know how to decide between fiction and fact. This is something India and the US have the capacity to share with the world," Kerry said at the third India-US Higher Education Dialogue here.
He added that public and private sectors need to work together to meet these challenges.
Welcoming the partnership, Raju said skill development was a key area of focus for India, and US partnership in this field would help.
"The median age of India's population is 28 years. Skill development is an important area. Institution-level collaboration with the community colleges in the US would help," he said.
"We are trying to bring the concept of community colleges to India. It is a model which caters to local industry and business needs, and imparts global training as well," Raju said.
Stating that 200 such institutes will be opened initially, Raju added that there was "a scope for 20,000 such colleges".
All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) signed an MoU at the dialogue with the American Association of Community Colleges on Cooperation for establishment of community colleges in India.
This is the third round of talks under the (Manmohan) Singh-Obama initiative.
Eight projects for building partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education in priority fields were signed. These include Harvard-India Nutrition Initiative between Harvard School of Public Health and St. John's Research Institute, Bangalore; an MoU between Aligarh Muslim University and Ohio State University, and between Assam Agricultural University and Washington State University.
Each of these projects will receive an award of approximately $250,000 that can be utilized over a three-year period, with the objectives of cultivating educational reforms, fostering economic growth, generating shared knowledge to address global challenges, and developing junior faculty at Indian and American institutions of higher learning.
Besides, MoUs were also signed between IIT-Delhi and University of Nebraska on cyber systems, and IIT-Bombay and edX, an online course platform, on Massive Open On-Line Courses (MOOCS).
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama announced the Obama-Singh Initiative in November 2009 as an affirmation of their commitment to building an enhanced India-US partnership in education. Each government pledged $5 million for this endeavour, for a total of $10 million.